Past the flannel plains and the blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust, and past the tobacco-brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight through them on the water downriver, to the place beyond the windbreak, where untilled fields simmer shrilly in the a.m. heat: shatter cane, lamb’s quarter, cutgrass, sawbrier, nutgrass, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, foxtail, muscatine, spinecabbage, goldenrod, creeping charlie, butter-print, nightshade, ragweed, wild oat, vetch, butcher grass, invaginate volunteer beans, all heads gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother’s soft hand on your cheek.
—David Foster Wallace, from Pale King


Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. S for Sentence celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. We post a sentence a month along with comments by a guest writer on the craft that shapes it, on what makes it great. In one or two sentences.
—Pearl Abraham, Editor
The Whitmanian list of grasses in this sentence awakes the reader's senses to the sight and scent, touch and yes, taste of a summer field in ripe fullness. Even before we get to the list, the "past" in both the first and second clauses creates a feeling of motion, the kind of panoramic view seen from a passing train, which speeding by provides passengers with a sweep of horizontal landscape. The many "ands" that string together all that's seen make this sentence an example of what Stanley Fish called "additive style," the stylist's form, where craft and rhythm are IT. Note the string of short i's and long e's in " untilled field simmer shrilly in the a.m heat." The hard k's of "canted rust" and glinting "coins of sunlight" are brought round with "windbreak, and finally ends with "cheek," which also echoes the long e's of breeze. This is music
—Pearl Abraham is the author of, most recently, Animal Voices, Mineral Hum